Bishop L. Jonathan Holston, resident bishop of the South Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, sent the following letter to the South Carolina Congressional delegation:
I want to share with you what I have shared with United Methodists across South Carolina regarding the need to care for the young people who would be most affected by the dissolution of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program:
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus…”
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News of the potential for more change in United States immigration policy has thrown into uncertainty the futures of thousands of undocumented young immigrants brought to the United States as children and their families.
Paul’s word to the church at Philippi was a simple one, but one that is often drowned out by the noise of political discourse.
As Christians in the midst of chaotic times, we recognize that people of faith have different opinions about issues of national concern. I pray we will look for opportunities for civil, thoughtful and respectful discussion with those who share our opinions and with those with whom we disagree.
It is only through being receptive to listening and actually hearing what others are saying that we can reach consensus on how to move forward in repairing our nation’s immigration policies.
As United Methodists, we must center our attention on sharing the love of Jesus Christ with the world, acting with charity, advocating for those without a voice, and working resolutely for justice.
The Social Principles of the United Methodist Church state: “We recognize, embrace and affirm all persons, regardless of country of origin, as members of the family of God. We affirm the right of all persons to equal opportunities for employment, access to housing, health care, education and freedom from social discrimination. We urge the Church and society to recognize the gifts, contributions and struggles of those who are immigrants and to advocate for justice for all.”
As Paul put it, we must remember that “it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13
We are called as Christians to remember who we are and whose we are, and to be witnesses to the love of Jesus Christ for the world. To be faithful in our witness to Jesus Christ, we are called to love the strangers in our midst as if they were Jesus. This is our calling and our mission – even when it feels risky and frightening to do so.
How can we do this?
▪ As you go about your day, reach out to young immigrants in your community who could be affected by this change in the law. Offer them a listening ear, a word of comfort. Pray with them.
▪ Seek to learn from them about their circumstances. Offer them hospitality and other expressions of care.
▪ Connect with schools and universities in your community and partner with them to reach out to DACA students and other immigrant young people with love and support.
▪ During these challenging times, pray for the courage to be faithful in our witness to Jesus Christ, the compassion to love the strangers living among us, and the strength to act when God places such opportunities in our path.
▪ Go to any county in South Carolina, and you will find United Methodists who take seriously their responsibility as citizens to advocate on behalf of the least of these among us. On their behalf, I respectfully request that you work to pass legislation like the DREAM Act, which was introduced by a bipartisan coalition.
As this is currently in the hands of Congress, my prayer is that you and other government leaders will work together to find a moral and compassionate solution to this problem within the next six months.